Late Season Electrofishing in East Georgia

georgia pond management

Bass Harvest…..it never stops

The pond being electrofishing today has a common problem that not many property owners think about but something we see often. The lake was stocked a few years back and everything was great. Owners get caught up in the excitement of seeing bass, bluegill, shell cracker, and shad going into the pond. The real work starts a few months later. Among a new lake owners duties is bass harvest. The initial bass that are stocked in a new pond will be the best class ever.

Georgia pond management
These are the original bass fingerlings. They are eight years old at this point. When a fishery reaches this point it’s important that the following year classes are managed very strictly. Failure to do so will result in lots of stunted bass that typically range in sizes of 8-12″. People are often blinded by catching lots of big bass while the runts’ numbers keep growing. Electrofishing opens eyes to the problem brewing underwater.
georgia pond management
Feed your tech.
georgia pond management
Capt. Matt breaking down the fishery in a more manageable form. after the electrofishing survey is done. The bluegill population size structure is compared to the bass population size structure. This snapshot gives us a very accurate understanding of what’s happening underwater.
Georgia electrofishing shock team
After a long week of electroshocks it was time to hit the road north for some decompression.

If you own a lake less than ten years old your best bet is to harvest bass aggressively and add habitat. Shoreline trees are a great start as the are usually small and will fall directly into the water. Digest these two tips then make them happen on your home water.

 

Lake Liming for New Lakes

georgia pond construction

New lakes are a beautiful thing. They are ripe for the imagination. Property owners can make humps and points to bounce a football jig off or sticking tree tops mid-lake that will one day result in a bass crushing a top water plug. However, till that point we have to do the small things that make those big dreams possible. One of the small things that results in big dividends is lake liming. Proper alkalinity also fertilization programs to be effective. Fertilized lakes can hold 300-400 lbs per acre of fish while unfertilized lakes hold 40-100 lbs per acre. Lime is a composed of basic compounds so it keeps pH cycle much more stable. Stability is king in nature.

Break in the Rain

Anyone living in the Southeast is probably wondering if our temperate deciduous forests is slowly becoming a rain forest with the amount of rain we are battling. After a few dry days we tip toed the lime barge across the virgin ground.

Georgia Lake Construction
New lakes in the North Georgia mountains are prime candidates for liming. There are a few veins of good soil in North Georgia but for the most part the soil is poor.
Georgia Lake Construction
Lots of standing timber and brush can compound water quality issues. We are big fans of adding dense cover for bluegill and offshore cover for bass when lakes are being constructed. However, there is too much of a good thing. Leaving too much brush can release tannic acid. High levels of tannic acid decrease oxygen levels.
georgia pond management
Fish will soon be stocked so Melissa is checking the water quality as a bench mark.

Today’s lake only needed fifty tons so it was a quick job. The tonnage was a little overkill but liming at high rates will last longer. Other companies will suggest one or two tons to the acre. It will appear cheaper at first. However the catch is it needs to be done every year so the company makes more money on application fees. At our tonnage rates we lime lakes every three to five years.

Summer

As we head into the summer this is the time we lime the bulk of our lakes. We also lime in the winter. We are booking up quickly for the month of June and July so get in contact the office if you would like your lake limed.

 

South Alabama Aeration Installation for Cyanobacteria Prevention

vertex lake aeration

With cyanobacteria becoming more and more wide spread we are taking preventive steps for our clients. Lake aeration is a great way to keep water from becoming stagnant.

Why is Cyanobacteria Bad?

Cyanobacteria grows in stagnate and nutrient-rich waters. Cyanobacteria produce toxins that affect people and pets.  The most common and serious health effects are caused by drinking water containing the toxins or by ingestion during swimming or playing in contaminated water. Not all Cyanobacteria produce toxins but many do. Lakes near heavy agriculture are more vulnerable due to the amount of fertilizers used. South Florida has been the hot spot in the last few years with poor water management, heavy organic loading from agriculture, and development. With few treatment options prevention is the best treatment.

Installation

With days of rain in Georgia is was exciting to be installing a lake aeration system under sunshine and not worrying about getting a truck buried in mud. Today’s installation had two cabinets and twelve total bottom diffused aeration stations. With the heat of a Southern Alabama summer the lake owner wanted to protect his investment from Cyanobacteria and fish kills. He plans to push this fishery to the max with future lime application, fertilization program, and heavy fish stocking.

alabama pond management
Located near Mobile, Alabama the lake had great Southern charm with plenty of live oaks.
This is a sample of what the bottom diffused stations look like. The black membrane has tiny holes in it that produce fine bubbles. The fine bubbles are what break up the layers that form in lakes.
vertex aeration
The bottom diffused stations are easy to install. Vertex are so simple they don’t even require hose clamps or Teflon tape.
lake management in georgia
We always bury the lines so the landscapers don’t hit the lines and it also looks more aesthetic.
georgia pond management
The last thing to do is deploy the units. Vertex creates a detailed map for us. The unites are all placed in specific areas based on depth.

After a few thousand meters of tubing the team successfully installed all the units. The lake owner was very pleased knowing his investment is being protected. If you would like to protect your investment give the office a call. Don’t let a family member get sick be the reason you get your lake worked on.

 

 

Mid-April Electrofishing Recap

The electrofishing team has been bouncing around middle and south Georgia for the first part of April. The team has been tackling many diverse fisheries from lakes less than two years old while others have run their course and need to be drained.

Georgia electrofishing
The weather was erratic at best. The weather fluctuated between down pours and gorgeous early spring skies.

Post-Spawn Conditions

The spawn was very flat this year. There wasn’t much of a buildup. With the amount of rain and unusual temperatures the bass spawned when the conditions were right. Many of the fish we shocked had fresh sores and flat bellies indicating the spawn has already happened. Some lakes had schools of bass fry with males guarding the school.

Georgia Electrofishing
A few pounds in the bass world makes a load of difference.
Georgia Electrofishing
Even after spawning this fish is still in great shape. Her relative weight was well over 100%.
Georgia Electrofishing
The crappie were moving up to spawn as well. This crappie was about 1.5 lbs. Crappie spawn before bass hence why their numbers can get out of control but, it seemed like this year the bass and crappie were spawning side by side.

Seasonal Growth

This time of year we get lots of calls about algae growth. With the warming water algae is starting to grow again. There are some species of algae that grow in specific temperatures but die in warmer or colder temperatures.

Georgia Electrofishing
Growth this sever needs to be chemically treated.
georgia electrofishing
Launching our shock boat in lakes with aquatic vegetation can be tricky. It’s critical that we clean our trailer so we don’t transfer vegetation from each lake.
georgia electrofishing
When algae is this thick it makes fishing almost impossible. A topwater frog is about the only thing that works in when filamentous algae is this thick.

Wrapping the Week Up

With a long week week of electrofishing coming to an end the team saved the best lakes for last.

Georgia Electrofishing
These bass are small but they are what all sizes of bass should look like. We always tel people healthy bass should look like footballs. Often times when electrofishing we shock bass that look more like torpedoes which indicates unhealthy bass.
Georgia Electrofishing
We are always telling people to diversify their forage base. Bass evenly eating four different forages allows no one forage base to get depleted. This particular client has low bass numbers so a small amount of goldfish survived. This particular lake had great numbers of shad. The property owner was adamant about stocking another load of shad but electrofishing revealed he had plenty.
Georgia Electrofishing
Let the boss get on the rail.
georgia electrofishing
An aerial view of the shock team pushing some fish off shore.
Georgia Electrofishing
Pure Florida strain bass are slow growers but they have constant growth while other strains of bass slow down after a hot start. Greg is holding two bass that are in the 4 year old age class.
Georgia Electrofishing
Bass harvest is a great tool to ensure fisheries remain in balance. With this lake being a quality bass fishery we only released bass that had relative weights greater than 95%. At the end of the day almost 70 lbs of bass were harvested.

After four days of electrofishing and being on the road the team heading back to Ball Ground. Electrofishing is all fun till the boat is hooked up and pointed home. The real work starts now with report writing. We are booked out till mid-May so if you have any interest in getting your lake shocked now is the time to get in contact with us.

 

Start of 2019 Electrofishing Season

Georgia Pond Management

The Start of 2019

With water temperatures creeping up to the magical 60 degree mark, the shock team has been on the move. The electrofishing team was recently in Cartersville, Georgia.  The client being serviced has an unconventional goal of wanting to grow large Redear sunfish. Redear sunfish feed primarily on mussels so they become very large but the growth takes a while. As of now, no fish food company has figured out a food that Redear will consume.

Texas Hunter Fish Feeder
The lake has a small creek that runs close by. The creek is a tributary to a major creek in the Cartersville area so it floods easy. All fish feeders are built up to keep them dry.

The Shock

The fish are staging in preparation for the spawn. All winter they have been in deep water seeking shelter from the weather. People ask us why we don’t perform lake audits year around and the reason comes back to the fish. In the winter and summer, fish seek deep water. Deep water is more stable than shallow water. Our electrofishing equipment has an effective range of 4-6ft so our catch rates wouldn’t be high. Summer time water temps can be stressful to fish while they are in the lake so shocking fish in the heat of the summer can be deadly.

gizzard shad in a pond.
With low bass density and a pond full of gizzard shad, it’s no wonder this pond produces huge bass. The gizzard shad are in the 6-11″ range which makes them perfect forage. We did remove some larger ones since they were too large even for the biggest bass. Gizzard shad in a pond environment get a bad rap. Many biologists cite gizzard shad lock up as a major issue since it can negatively effect juvenile recruitment. The reward of stocking gizzard shad is trophy bass. Threadfin shad, bluegill, and other forage are great, but to get to trophy status, bass need large forage. Certain states are known for growing big bass while others aren’t. Florida has golden shiners that exceed 8″, Texas has tilapia, and California has rainbow trout.
Shiner
The lake gets flooded so some unusual species come into the pond. This is a Spottail Shiner.
Big Bass in Georgia Pond
Till the Redear sunfish get big enough to catch there are still plenty of fish to put a bend in the rod.
big bass
With the full moon coming soon, the fish are starting the stage for the spawn. Since the population is small, we tag a large portion of shocked bass. Our previous catches from last years electrofishing survey have grown 2 lbs in a year, which is phenomenal. Well managed lakes with an established bass population average 1 lb of growth per year.

As the weather continues to warm, keep up with the AES shock team this spring. Spring is when the largest bass are shocked.

 

 

Seneca, South Carolina Lake Liming

Lake Liming

Trophy Bass Start in the Dirt

When you think of growing trophy bass, dirt isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Bluegill, crawfish, shad and other forage grow big bass but have you thought about what grows a bass’s food?

All fish start out as fry and feed off their yoke sack. Once they are done with the yoke sack they move onto small aquatic insects. Lakes with poor soil don’t support as many aquatic insects.  When we attempt to fertilize these lagging lakes our fertilizer has no affect because alkalinity levels are low. Luckily for lake owners there is an easy solution to get top notch dirt.

Liming your lake is an easy job assuming there is proper boat access and a good tractor operator. Liming food plots is a normal fall ritual for hunters, but liming lakes is mostly unknown. Unlike food plots, lakes only need to be limed once every 3-5 years with the rates we recommend. Lake liming ensures the fertilizer will be effective and produces an algae bloom.

lake liming
The first few loads are always the hardest. The ground is very saturated so carrying such a heavy load makes operators nervous.
The lake being limed is a classic South Carolina up state lake with red clay composing the bulk of the soil. Red clay isn’t good for growing crops or big bass.
Lake Liming
When we are spraying lime off the barge we are liming the soil. We aren’t liming the water as many clients assume.
lake liming
In two to three months the lake will be ready to fertilize. Hydrated lime is quicker acting but it will last less than six months.  We used agriculture lime today. Agriculture lime is slower acting but last years. We lime lakes at 4-6 tons/acre because we only want to lime every 3-5 years.

In a few hours the pile of 24 tons was in the lake and working on the soil. We like to lime lakes in the cold months because lake owners won’t be losing growing season. We start fertilizing lakes once the water temps reach 60 degrees, so ideally our owners start fertilizing in April.

 

 

Lake Aeration in Jackson, Georgia

outdoor water solutions

Aeration and lake liming are two lake improvements that generate the least amount of enthusiasm from clients. Unlike fishing stocking where there’s instant gratification of seeing 10,000 bluegill go into the lake, seeing 800 meters of weighted airline sink into the lake is a big let down. However, subtle improvements are the difference between phenomenal fisheries and mediocre ones.

Today’s job was an aeration installation in Jackson, GA. Aeration installations are simple to install but they take lots of prep work to make for a smooth day. Outdoor Water Solutions is the company we used for this client. They provided AES with a detailed project map of where each bottom diffuser is to be dropped as well as the amount of air line.

The Parts

outdoor water solutions
This is the cabinet which houses the air compressor to produce the aeration in the lake.
pond management
The tubing comes in large spools for big jobs while for smaller jobs they come in 100 meter boxes. The tubing is weighted so it sinks to the bottom.
bottom diffused aeration
These are the diffusers that go on the lake bottom and produce the fine bubbles.
pond management
The pores on the membrane are extremely fine to produce the small bubbles.

The Installation

Pond aeration
Aeration systems only require PVC glue, teflon tape, and hose clamps.
pond management
Josh is putting the last few turns on a diffuser before it gets dropped.
pond aeration
We use PVC glue with a barbed connector but as extra insurance we secure a hose clamp to the diffuser.
pond management
Lots of logistics were required to make today go smooth. With the amount of diffuser stations and tubing things could go sideways quickly.
pond management
Deploying the diffuser stations requires care because too much pressure on the diffuser stems can cause cracking. We use PVC glue and clamps to secure all air lines but great care is still used.

The Worst Case

This particular client has a lot invested in the fishery both in time and money. Aeration systems prevent summer fish kills among other things. They also help break up bottom muck, reduce foul odors, and limit the amount of biting insects. If your lake water resembled a bowl of pea soup last summer, an aeration system is something that should be seriously considered.

Below is a client that had four years worth of management invested in his lake. He sent us these horrific pictures of his lake one summer morning. This is why we aerate lakes.

Threadfin Shad
These are dead threadfin shad.
bluegill
This shoreline was where the bulk of the bluegill washed up. This client loves to fly fish for big bluegill. Seeing crows and buzzards fly off with your dead 1 lb bluegill cuts deep.
big bass
A front loader full of stud 4-6 lb largemouth.

The reason this lake experienced a fish kill was because the lake flipped. There was a period of cloudy rainy weather during the heat of the summer. Oxygen levels crashed and the fish had nothing to consume. Call the office this spring before it’s too late for your pond.

 

 

 

 

Stocking Trout in Augusta, Georgia

Rainbow Trout

Fort Gordon Army Base

Stocking trout is nothing new as  we stocked browns in the Soque River   not long ago but with this week’s polar vortex, water temps throughout the state are prime for trout stockings. Even in areas not normally known for supporting trout we can stock them with winter time water temperatures. Today’s dump was at Fort Gordon Army base located near Augusta, GA. January and February are prime times for stocking trout in Georgia. The end of January works well for Fort Gordon because they host a yearly trout rodeo for kids and their parents. The base has its own natural resources staff to manage all of the base’s fisheries and wildlife. Events like this promote outdoor involvement and make great opportunities for wildlife officers to interact with base residents.

rainbow trout
Steve Camp is head of all natural resources on the base.

 

The Set Up

Fort Gordon is covered up with lakes and ponds. Some are strictly managed for certain goals while others are simply meant to provide a good angling experience. Many of the lakes have been limed and are now fertilized. In addition to the lime and fertilization program, the bulk of the lakes have Texas Hunter fish feeders to supplement the bluegill in the warm months and trout in the colder months. Steve is working with a tight budget so every purchase has a purpose.

rainbow trout
Flicking the trout in the air so they hit the water with gusto is an industry trick to stocking trout. Steve has the wrist flick down to a science. Allowing the trout to hit the water breaks ups the Carbon Dioxide that builds in their gills while being hauled.
trout stocking in Georgia
Having more hands is always welcomed. This is one of Steve’s newest biologist. This is a good teaching moment to talk about cold water fish since trout stocking in Georgia doesn’t happen often.
rainbow trout
Since the bulk of these fish were for kids to catch we stocked larger trout. The average weight was about 1.5 lbs. Trout that size are sure to keep the kids busy and taste great that evening.

Community is the Why

As we were wrapping up the stocking Steve did some community education. Managing wildlife is Steve’s main job but interacting with the community is just as important if not  more important. Steve has a big personality so community members love talking with him. His passion for the outdoors is unmatched.

Fort Gordon is a diverse army base with many different sectors. Often times these sectors stay within their area during the work day then go home. Steve uses the outdoors to bring people together and meet other people. Steve’s passion for helping someone get their first buck or fish is the reason he does this job. Like many other high level mangers he’s spinning ten plates in the air but still makes time for the people.

With the threat of Atlanta afternoon traffic looming we made a quick exit off the base. Stocking trout in Augusta, GA shows that if you want trout you can get them. Many ponds in the state can support trout from November to April. Some ponds can even support trout into June. With the trout hatcheries running low on inventory now is the time for stocking trout in Georgia or you may loose the opportunity till next season.

 

Storm causes major Trout loss. Massive cleaning effort helps feed the needy.

Cleaning trout to feed the needy

As much as we like to showcase the exciting things happening at AES, we also have to share the tragic moments with you as well. We are humans  and we all make mistakes from time to time. The heavy rain Thursday night shut off the water to our ponds, causing a near total kill if our trout.  Close to 1200 trout died in the storm, and with a retail value of about $4/lb, we lost about $4800.  We tried to make lemonade from this lemon and cleaned over 200 of these 2-3 lb trout to provide food for the needy. It was a chore, as you can imagine, but hope to use these trout to raise money for a charity or volunteer to cook them for a food bank.

Dead Trout

Cleaning trout to feed the needy